Social Media Marketing and Book Publishing: Lessons to Help Generate Book Buzz
More and more writers today are using social media to create buzz for their book. And for good reasons. Yes, it’s cost-effective and all that, and sure you can get a lot of mileage for having presences on sites, but most importantly what lies beneath is really what’s fundamental—simply, people like to talk about books, they like to share what they are reading and what books they are waiting to come out in print or e-book. The book industry is a natural for social media marketing and authors today are discovering great results by utilizing social media marketing for their pre-and-post book launch.
However, like with all social media marketing efforts, there are ways to create more unique and memorable campaigns than others.
For this post, we checked in with a number of authors and industry professionals who have created buzz for books and have some valuable lessons to share.
Their collective experiences speak to being innovative, creating a brand strategy, segmenting the target population, being persistent, and in some cases, not being willing to take NO for an answer. As you’ll see the genres of the books run the gamut as well as the level of experience with social media. Some went into their marketing initiatives with a lot of experience, some with less and one of the authors sought the help of a social media professional.
Book Buzz Lessons
Becky Robinson, director of social media marketing and community building at The Kevin Eikenberry Group helped authors Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris launch their book, From Bud to Boss. Becky writes in her March 2011 blog post, “Through the launch of this book we learned a few important lessons about using social media to launch a product: 1) Build a network first, 2) Look for ways to give 3) Make it easy 4) It’s all about relationship.” (You can read the full post for more details about these points.)
In a recent e-mail interview with Becky she added a few more tips for this post: 5) Remind people about your launch date, what help you want, and when you want it. People are busy; even if they have great intentions about giving social media buzz to your project, they may forget. Don’t be afraid to send multiple reminders to help keep your project in the front of their minds. 6) Say thank you and invite people to celebrate with you. I helped with two recent book launches for friends and both sent personal emails to say thanks. 7) Find a way to be memorable. Mike Figliuolo, who is launching his first book this month, painted his office to match his book cover. Then he posted photos on Facebook when his book arrived. It makes a great scene; the book matches the background. We asked people to take photos of themselves with From Bud to Boss and had a contest to find the best one. Our fans created some memorable photos!
Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy authors of Branding Yourself and No Bullshit Social Media used social media to build buzz for their books. Erik suggests that the decision to use social media was easy for them. As social media professionals who wrote two books about social media, he says, “We’d damn well better eat our own dog food.” Erik describes that he and Kyle had already grown extensive social networks over the years, which as he says, “Is something any author should be using…most of our connections know us through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and our own blogs.”
For Erik and Kyle, Twitter always generated the most buzz with people tweeting out messages about buying, receiving or reading the book. “We set up special searches and alerts whenever someone used the book title in a tweet. But Facebook always seemed to get a lot of recognition, especially from family
and friends who don’t move in the same social media circles as us.”
Erik offers this advice: “Start growing your social networks NOW, before you even start writing your book. If your book is already out, do a crash course and campaign in building a social network. This is the least expensive and most cost-effective way to promote a book. If you’re still relying on traditional media and interviews as the only way to promote your book, you’re going to miss a significant readership.”
Matt Stewart author of The French Revolution shared this unique story with us. In the summer of 2009 after his agent had shopped his novel around and editors passed on it, Matt had the idea to use Twitter. “I was increasingly using Twitter at work and at events, and realized that there was really nothing else like it for cutting to the point quick. In the shower one morning in late June 2009, the idea hit me — why not put the novel out on Twitter? It’s no way to read a novel, but it’s a terrific way to connect with people fast, and give them a taste of the book so they can buy the whole thing later.
Starting on Bastille Day, July 14, 2009, Matt began broadcasting The French Revolution via @thefrenchrev and thefrenchrev.com. “I braced myself for widespread ridicule (‘What kind of moron’s ever going to read a novel on Twitter?’)—and was accordingly astonished when the feedback was overwhelming supportive. I wound up making headlines worldwide and landing a book deal with the ballsiest publisher of them all, Soft Skull.”
Matt’s advice: “Go for it. The publishing industry is generally pretty old school, but trying something innovative, fresh and intelligent will always get kudos at least for trying.”
Julie Spira is the author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. Julie credits social media marketing for her book becoming an Amazon bestseller on its launch date solely through the use of social media marketing. And, also by using social media strategies she was successful in extending the shelf-life of the book, resulting in it being a bestseller for twenty-five months.
How did she do it? Julie says,“Four months prior to my book’s release, I created a website/blog called CyberDatingExpert.com and blogged daily about dating advice and my book release. I also created a book page with the book title, PerilsofCyberDating.com so people could purchase the book there as well. I already had a Facebook personal page and Twitter account, so I engaged with other authors and relationship experts which was highly successful. I added a Facebook group for my book title, during the days before people had pages to “like.” I created a book trailer and posted it to YouTube and to both websites. I posted my book endorsements regularly on Twitter and Facebook. Every time I had a media interview during the book launch period and afterwards, I posted the logo of the news outlet on all social media pages. I created several social media press releases. One to announce my book deal, one to announce the publication date, and one to announce the bestseller status. As I did not have support from my publisher, I used my Internet marketing background to create so much buzz for the book, that even today, a Google and Yahoo! search will show my keywords of “online dating expert” as #1 and ‘dating expert’ on the first page due to the continuity of my blogging and media.”
Cheryl Lawson author of two children’s books, The Adventures of Precious the Dog (Book 1 and Book 2) started using Twitter for her first Precious story before it became a book. She created a Twitter account, for Precious the Dog, @Imajackrussell, her Twitter followers kept asking, “Hey Precious, when is your book coming out?”
Cheryl says, “After looking into publishers and the cost associated, I decided to self-publish my book. I found an illustrator, figured out the copyright, found a printer, and more. All along keeping Precious’ Twitter followers involved in the process. The first copy of the first book sold to one of @Imajackrussell’s Twitter followers in New Zealand.”
Cheryl credits the success of her campaign to “creating the brand, providing books to key bloggers, tweeters, attending conferences, developing relationships and being a part of a particular community. I chose the pet community. I find that pet owners and parents of young children enjoy similar traits.” Cheryl’s advice to authors considering social media for their book, “Just Do it!, Find your niche. Be consistent. And Have fun!”
Karen Koenig, author of Nice Girls Finish Fat—Put Yourself First and Change Your Eating Forever! is a psychotherapist, national speaker, and an expert on the psychology of eating who worked with a social consultant on the promotion of her book. Karen told us she was interested in using social media for the book launch because even though her other books had a good following in eating disorders catalogs that she worried that the title of the book might put older women off and wanted to attract younger readers. “I thought the best place to find [younger readers] was through social media sites.”
With the help of a consultant, Karen used Twitter, Facebook page for the book, YouTube for video interviews and LinkedIn. Karen reported that the most successful part of the campaign was “the ability to attract women who otherwise may not have heard of her book, young professionals, stay-at-home moms, my direct audience. I have also found value in being able to announce my talks and interviews so easily and accessibly.”
Karen offers the following advice, “Ask specifically what a social media consultant can do you for, set goals with them, learn about social media yourself, interview several candidates, do a trial run with someone you hire, say, 6 months, and look for someone who is not only social media savvy, but sympathetic to the topic of your book.”
Thank you to our contributors for sharing their experiences with us. We wish them continued success with their books!
Will you use social media to create buzz for your book? Let us know in the comments below.